7.4/10
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177 user 141 critic

Russian Ark (2002)

Russkiy kovcheg (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, History | 19 April 2003 (Russia)
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2:18 | Trailer

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A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.

Director:

Aleksandr Sokurov

Writers:

Boris Khaimsky (dialogue), Anatoli Nikiforov | 3 more credits »
10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergey Dreyden ... The Stranger (The Marquis de Custine)
Mariya Kuznetsova Mariya Kuznetsova ... Catherine The Great
Leonid Mozgovoy Leonid Mozgovoy ... The Spy
Mikhail Piotrovsky Mikhail Piotrovsky ... Himself (Hermitage Director)
David Giorgobiani ... Orbeli
Aleksandr Chaban ... Boris Piotrovsky
Lev Eliseev ... Himself
Oleg Khmelnitsky Oleg Khmelnitsky ... Himself
Alla Osipenko ... Herself
Artyom Strelnikov Artyom Strelnikov ... Talented Boy
Tamara Kurenkova Tamara Kurenkova ... Herself (Blind Woman)
Maksim Sergeev Maksim Sergeev ... Peter the Great
Natalya Nikulenko Natalya Nikulenko ... Catherine the Great
Elena Rufanova Elena Rufanova ... First Lady
Yelena Spiridonova Yelena Spiridonova ... Second Lady
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Storyline

An unseen man regains consciousness, not knowing who or where he is. No one seems to be able to see him, except the mysterious man dressed in black. He eventually learns through their discussions that this man is a 19th century French aristocrat, who he coins the "European". This turn of events is unusual as the unseen man has a knowledge of the present day. The two quickly learn that they are in the Winter Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the European who has a comprehensive knowledge of Russian history to his time. As the two travel through the palace and its grounds, they interact with people from various eras of Russian history, either through events that have happened at the palace or through the viewing of artifacts housed in the museum. Ultimately, the unseen man's desired journey is to move forward, with or without his European companion. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

2000 Actors. 300 years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Russia | Germany | Japan | Canada | Finland | Denmark

Language:

Russian | Persian

Release Date:

19 April 2003 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

El arca rusa See more »

Filming Locations:

Russia See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$29,022, 15 December 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$37,439, 22 November 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the Hermitage museum was told about the plans to shoot the film in one cut, they offered the director to close the museum for two days. Alexandr Sukhorukov rejected the offer as it had to be done in one single day. See more »

Goofs

During the opening section of the film, in which the unseen narrator walks/glides through the backstage area of the opera that is being performed, there is a moment in which you can distinctly see the shadow of the boom operator following the camera. See more »

Quotes

The Stranger: Let's proceed with caution. These madmen could eat us.
The Time Traveller: They liked your hair.
The Stranger: Of course, I'm a writer. Writer's always have good hair.
See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Movies Told in Real Time (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Nocturn
Composed by Mikhail Glinka
Arranged and interpreted by Sergei Yevtushenko (as Sergey Yevtushenko)
Performed by The State Hermitage Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

A living history museum comes to life on film
28 December 2002 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Russian Ark" is an extraordinary docu-drama approach to bringing architectural history alive. It brings the "living history" approach of "Colonial Williamsburg" etc. to cinema.

It would have been enough that the director got extensive access to the Hermitage Museum in Petersburg to show it to us.

It would have been enough to have authentic costumes, choreography, and make-up for several centuries of Russian history. (I was reminded that my husband's grandmother was a young seamstress for rich folks like these, making this extravagant lifestyle possible.)

It would have been enough to have literally a cast of thousands because how else can one really know how those fantastic ballrooms and grand staircases were meant to be used and seen without a full orchestra and gowned and uniformed participants as far as the camera can see?

It would have been enough to come up with a cute gimmick of a time-traveling two-some to glide us through the rooms of the Hermitage to show the tsars, aristocrats, curators, and ordinary Russian tourists who have passed through over the years, with humorous commentary on Russia's changing relationship with Europe over these centuries as shown through the art and architecture of the building while wars and revolutions loomed outside.

But then, it would have been enough that it's all done in a single take over just an hour and a half with luscious cinematography.

There was a slow line to get in the theater so I missed the opening historical background, and I've learned most of my Russian (let alone European) history from novels and movies so I did get a bit lost here and there wandering the corridors of history, but the unseen narrator posits that this is all a dreamscape anyway.

I made a point of seeing this because a fellow cinephile who I frequently bump into at my local arthouse had directly called the distributor asking when it would be playing elsewhere and was told they can't afford to make more prints available so one can only see it at the Manhattan theaters -- so make a point to see it on a movie screen and not just wait for when the History Channel shows a reduced version.


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